Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prelate clears priest

http://www.voxbikol.com/content/naga-prelate-clears-priest-molestation-charges
Naga Prelate Clears Priest of Molestation Charges
by andygimpaya | November 15, 2010 - 6:21pm
MANILA, Nov. 9, 2010—Caceres Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi has cleared a member of the archdiocesan clergy from charges of molesting a teen-age boy in a local motel.

In a statement sent to CBCP Media Office today, the 74-year old prelate said apparent attempts to destroy and discredit the church have been made by some sectors and individuals.

“The accused priest and the Archdiocese of Caceres vehemently deny the said accusation,” Archbishop Legaspi said in his statement.

“We are saddened by the fact that this false and malicious accusation is being made at the time when our priests are having their annual clergy retreat,” he added as he asked the faithful for prayers at this time.

The investigation initiated by church authorities revealed a complaint made with police authorities of an alleged sexual offense committed against the complainant who identified the alleged perpetrator through the plate number of a car.

As the police performed follow-up investigation, it was learned the plate number belonged to a car owned by Msgr. Peter Beriña. It was Msgr. Beriña’s driver who admitted using the car without the priest’s knowledge and permission. The driver said he entered the motel with a female companion on the date and time of the alleged incident.

The same driver said Msgr. Beriña was nowhere near the place of the incident, but “out of nowhere, the 17-year old boy comes forward complaining and accusing Msgr. Beriña.”

“Apparently, Msgr. Beriña is innocent and the accusation against him is false and fabricated,” Archbishop Legaspi said.

He vowed to look into the possibility that some malicious ploy against the church and its priests has been launched.

The prelate further said the Archdiocese of Caceres is prepared to take appropriate legal action against the people behind in what he described as “defamatory accusations.”

He likewise called on the faithful “to be cautious and discerning, and ultimately take the side of the truth.” (Melo M. Acuna)

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